Barring Setback, Joel Ward Expected to Return for Game 1

Barring a setback, Capitals forward Joel Ward should return from his left knee injury for Game 1 Thursday against the Rangers, according to Coach Adam Oates.

The 32-year-old missed the last nine games of the regular season after blocking a slap shot from the Lightning's Sami Salo April 7. He scored eight goals in 39 games before his injury.

If Ward does indeed return Thursday, expect him to start on the fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. Aaron Volpatti will likely be the odd man out.

Here were the forward combinations and defensive pairings at practice Tuesday. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Martin Erat - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr

Aaron Volpatti - Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward - Wojtek Wolski

Karl Alzner- Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jack Hillen - Steven Oleksy

Jeff Schultz - Tom Poti

Braden Holtby/Michal Neuvirth

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